The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow


James Walker LEWIS was born in Buckingham county, Va., October 23, 1823. He
was the fifth of six children of Thomas and Jedidah LEWIS, four of whom were
boys. His father was a successful farmer of the Old Dominion, and at his death,
which occurred in 1826, left a fine estate. But, unfortunately, having involved
himself by indorsements for others, his estate was absorbed in the payment of
these claims and the tedious processes of law incident thereto, leaving nothing
for his widow, or for his children, the eldest of whom was less than fifteen
years of age. In 1831, the widow having learned something of Missouri, from
relatives of her husband, who had preceded her here, determined to cast her lot
in the west. In October of that year, she arrived in Howard county with her
family, where she rented a farm. In 1833, she married Wm. L. BANKS. Her eldest
son, Benjamin, feeling now relieved of the care of the family by this event,
which had devolved upon him since his father's death, took the subject of this
sketch, then a lad of ten years, with him to Linn county, where they engaged in
agricultural pursuits, James W. doing the cooking, etc., and Benjamin the outdoor
work. they continued in this, however, not quite two years, and then returned to
Howard county. James W. worked for a time for his board and clothes. After this,
and until the formation of a partnership between Benjamin W. LEWIS and William D.
SWINNEY, in the manufacture of tobacco, James found employment in various
occupations, principally in hauling freight from the river with an ox team and
delivering it at various points in the county. After the formation of the
partnership, he was employed by them, and was so engaged during the continuation
of the partnership, at a salary. By untiring industry and energy, and the most
rigid economy in these various employments, he was enabled to accumulate small
means, and not wishing his little capital to remain idle, he invested his small
accumulations in a copartnership with his younger brother, William J. LEWIS. In
1847, they engaged in the manufacture of tobacco at St. Louis, under the firm
name of J. W. & W. LEWIS. At first they operated on a limited scale, but by a
thorough system of honorable and liberal dealing, the firm very soon assumed high
rank among the business firms of that city, James remaining at Glasgow, on a
salary, with SWINNEY & LEWIS, while William conducted the business at St. Louis.
In January, 1850, the firm of SWINNEY and LEWIS was dissolved, by the withdrawal
of Mr. SWINNEY. The three brothers then became equally interested in the
business, under the firm name of B. W. LEWIS & Bros., at Glasgow and of LEWIS &
Bros., at St. Louis. The copartnerships continued with gratifying success for
several years, when John D. PERRY was admitted into the house at St. Louis, and
Thomas J. BARTHOLOW in the one at Glasgow, the firm name of the former being
changed to that of LEWIS, PERRY & Co., while the one at Glasgow remained the
same. The business was then conducted with great success for several years, when
Messrs. BARTHOLOW and PERRY withdrew, and the business has since been continued
in the same name, by Major LEWIS. Mr. LEWIS is also interested in the banking
house of BARTHOLOW, LEWIS & Co., and has been since its organization. In 1872, on
account of its increasing business, it was deemed best to make it a chartered
institution, which was done that year, Major LEWIS retaining a large interest and
is one of the directors. His farming interests in Howard, Chariton and Randolph
counties are very great. He and his nephew, James B. LEWIS, own a large saw mill
at the mouth of the Chariton river. Major LEWIS, in early life, was connected
with the democratic party, and voted for Douglas, in 1860; but has since acted
with the republicans, and is considered a leader among them in this section of
the state. Though often solicited, he has never permitted his name to be used in
connection with a political office. Previous to the late war, he and his elder
brother had gathered about them a large number of slaves and employed them in
their factory. But a year before the emancipation proclamation was issued, they,
believing the interests of the country demanded the abolition of all slave
property, freed their slaves, retaining in their employ, at liberal wages, such
as desired to remain. Others, desiring to set up for themselves, received
substantial assistance in securing more permanent homes. Major LEWIS united with
the M. E. church in 1843, and 1845, adhered to the church south, there being at
that time scarcely any division of sentiment in the congregation of which he was
a member. Upon the re-establishment of the M. E. church in Glasgow, in 1862, he
reunited with it, and has since been among its chief supporters in all its
various interests, and in return, has been the recipient of the highest honors of
which a lay member is eligible, that of delegate to the general conference. While
Lewis' library and college probably owe their origin more directly to the
philanthropic spirit of his deceased brother, their completion, support and
success have been largely dependent upon his generosity, and, in years to come,
will remain as monuments more enduring than brass to the memory of the LEWIS'
family. On the 7th day of October, 1852, he was married to Virginia V., daughter
of Singleton BARTHOLOW, of Maryland. By her he has three children living – two
sons and one daughter.


Benjamin Whitehead LEWIS was born on the 10th day of January, 1812, in
Buckingham county, Virginia. His parents, Thomas and Jedidah LEWIS, had six
children, four of whom were boys, Benjamin being the oldest. The father died in
1826. The family were left in destitute circumstances owing to his death, and the
subject of this sketch being the eldest, though a boy under fifteen years of age,
the care and responsibilities of the family were thus thrust upon him. In 1831,
the mother believing there were more favorable opportunities for her sons in the
west, she and her family came to Missouri and rented a farm near Glasgow, where
they engaged in farming. Some two years afterwards, she was married to William
BANKS. Benjamin being thus relieved of the care of the family, to a certain
extent, removed to Linn county; but, in about two years, returned to Howard
county. Here Benjamin commenced his real career as a business man, a career that
led up to great wealth, and to a conspicuous position among the foremost citizens
of Missouri in business affairs, and in the respect and confidence of the people.
He began by taking employment in a tobacco factory in Glasgow. Soon he formed a
partnership with J. F. NICHOLS, Wm. J. MOORE and R. P. HANENKAMP, in that line of
business. The following year, he sold out his interest in that firm, and formed a
partnership with Wm. D. SWINNEY, in the same line. This continued until 1849, and
was almost unprecedentedly successful; but that year their entire establishment
was destroyed by fire, resulting in a loss of over $25,000. The factory, however,
was immediately rebuilt on a more extensive scale than ever, and, in 1850, Mr.
SWINNEY having withdrawn from the business, the three brothers, B. W., J. W., and
W. J. LEWIS, united their interests under the firm name of B. W. LEWIS & Bros.,
in Glasgow, and of LEWIS & Bros., in St. Louis. Under this arrangement, their
business was carried on with rapidly increasing success. They were now annually
working up about 4,000.000 pounds of tobacco, and exporting large quantities of
plug, fine-cut, etc., to England, and to the continent of Europe, their trade
extending to Australia. When the war began they were working over 500 hands. In
1862, the Glasgow factory was again burned, involving a loss of $200,000. On
account of the disturbed condition of the country at that time, the factory was
not rebuilt until 1863. In 1862, Benjamin W. LEWIS was appointed aid to Governor
FLETCHER, with the title of colonel. For many years he was prominently connected
with every public enterprise in which the community where he lived had an
interest. He was one of the largest stockholders and a director in the Glasgow
branch of the Exchange bank, of Missouri, and, at his death, left a legacy of
$10,000 to found a public library in Glasgow, to be under the management of the
M. E. church, and , subsequently, his widow, brother, James W., and eldest son.
B. W. LEWIS erected a suitable building for the library, at a cost of $26,000. An
earnest member of the church, a short time before his death he and his brother
James purchased and fitted up a neat church edifice and donated it to the M. E.
church. Prior to the late war, Mr. LEWIS had always been a democrat, having voted
the democratic ticket in 1861. But siding strongly with the Union in that
struggle, he naturally became a republican, and acted with that party until his
death. His political views thus seeming to place him in antagonism with a
majority of his fellow-members in the southern M. E. church, he united with the
M. E. church, and was chiefly instrumental in organizing a society in Glasgow, in
that denomination. On the 21st of October, 1864, at 11 o'clock at night, a band
of guerrillas, under the notorious Bill ANDERSON, went to the residence of Mr.
LEWIS and demanded $10,000 or his life. Having but a small amount of money about
his person, he was taken from his home (after being subjected to personal
outrages so atrocious and brutal as to hardly bear mention) and driven to the
bank of THOMSON & DUNNICA, for the purpose of being forced to raise the amount
demanded. But failing to get it there, his life would undoubtedly have been
tortured out of him had not Mrs. THOMSON, hearing of his peril, proceeded at once
to his relief with $7,000, principally in gold, which the bandits accepted as his
ransom. Mr. LEWIS was thrice married. His first wife was Amanda, daughter of
Joseph and Elizabeth (RECTOR) BARTON; his second, a widow BOWMAN, whose maiden
name was McPHERSON; his third was Eleanor, daughter of Talton and Sarah
(EARICKSON) TURNER. By his first wife, Mr. Lewis left two children; the eldest
Benjamin W. Lewis of St. Louis, one of the leading railroad men of the west, and,
lately, president of the W., St. L. & P. railway, and James B., a leading farmer
of this county. By his last wife, who survives him, he left three children –
Richard E., Rebecca E., and Annie E. On the 1st day of February, 1866, in the
presence of his family and a circle of devoted friends, he died, leaving behind
him a name and character for honor, truth, benevolence and virtue, that is a
greater heritage to his family than the magnificent fortune he bequeathed them,
which amounted to something near $800,000.

Find a grave with portrait

I did find a source for James W having been a Capt of Company A, 46th EMM, promoted to Major on Gen Bartholow's staff.

This may be a lead on Ben's service but I have no proof the card and person in question is the same:

I do not find a reference in Fold3 for Ben.


Messages In This Thread

Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow
Re: Colonel Benjamin Whitehead Lewis of Glascow